“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’”
We must receive the righteousness of God
Paul the Apostle was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. He stately testified the gospel. However, one of the reasons many people weep though they believe in Jesus is because of their sins. It is also due to their ignorance in acknowledging the righteousness of God. We can be saved by believing in God’s righteousness and by giving up our own righteousness.
Why was Paul the Apostle not ashamed of the gospel? First of all, it was because the righteousness of God was revealed in it.
The gospel, ‘euaggelion’ in Greek, means ‘good news’. When Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, God’s angel appeared and told the shepherds who were keeping watch over their flock at night, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” (Luke 2:14) It was good news─‘peace, good will toward men.’ The gospel of the Lord saved us from all sins and washed away the sins of the world. Jesus washed away all our sins. He, Himself, washed away all the sins of those who squirmed like maggots in dunghills and who sinned in the mud.
Firstly, Paul the Apostle said that the righteousness of God was revealed in the gospel. God’s righteousness was revealed in the gospel that blotted out all our sins. The righteousness of God allowed us to become the saints and the righteous. It also permitted us to obtain eternal lives and be sinless.
What is the righteousness of human beings? We people like to show ourselves off before God when we have something to brag about. Piling one’s own pride by doing good deeds portrays human righteousness. However, Jesus’ righteous act that saved us from all our sins allowed God’s righteousness to be revealed in the gospel. This is the righteousness of God.
These days, most Christians preach the gospel without knowing the gospel of the righteousness of God. They say, “Believe in Jesus and you will be saved and become rich.” However, these are not the teachings of the gospel of God’s righteousness. The gospel seems to be more popular than anything, but most people are ignorant and do not understand the gospel. It is similar to the fact that the Bible is a bestseller, but people still don’t know its contents actually. The most precious and beneficial thing in this world is the gospel, which God has given us.
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.” The gospel of God is like an oasis in the desert. Jesus came to those sinners who had committed many sins and washed all of their sins away. However, people have rejected the gift of His righteousness, which has washed away the sins of the world, while trying to establish their own righteousness. People who put up their own efforts (service, dedication, zeal, offering, prayer of repentance, fasting prayer, keeping the Lord’s day, translating God’s word into practice and so on), and refuse God’s gift, are those who reject His righteousness. One can receive the righteousness of God only when one’s own righteousness is given up.
They sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves clothing
In Genesis 3:21, it is written, “Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.”
The first man, Adam, sinned against God by falling into the trickery of Satan. What Adam and Eve did right after they sinned was to sew fig leaves together and make themselves clothing. The garments made of sewed fig leaves forms a striking contrast to the tunics made of skins. It was the difference between ‘the righteousness of man’ and ‘the righteousness of God.’ Genesis 3:7 said, “They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Have you ever plaited radish leaves? We Koreans cut off radish leaves from radishes and plait them together with rice-straws to dry them. We cook bean paste stew with them in the winter. It is very delicious!
Adam and Eve plaited fig leaves together and made garments after they had sinned. This sort of acts─good deeds, self-trial and self-sacrifice─constitute human righteousness. It is self-righteousness, not the righteousness of God. The fact that they made their own garments with fig leaves shows the sin of pride by trying to hide their sins with their good deeds before God. Plaiting one’s righteousness–one’s devotions, self-offerings, self-trials, services, and prayers of repentance into a garment, and covering the sins in one’s mind with it is ‘idolatry,’ which accrues one’s pride before God.
Can we hide our sins in our hearts before God by sewing fig leaves together to make garments? Can we hide our sins by our good deeds? Never. The leaves would begin to fall in a day, and on the third day, all the leaves would fall finally. Garments made of vegetables don’t last long. People who sew fig leaves together and make garments, namely, those who try to be righteous by serving God well with their own deeds, cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. We cannot receive the forgiveness of sins by the righteousness of our own deeds.
When Adam and Eve tried to hide their sins by making garments with fig-leaves, God called Adam, “Where are you, Adam?” While hiding himself among the trees of the garden, he said, “I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” A person who has sin tries to hide among the trees. Trees frequently imply men in the Bible. He/she who has sin in the heart tries to hide himself/herself among people. He/she likes to take a seat in the middle, not sitting too far back or in the front of the church where many people gather together. Why? Because he/she wants to hide himself/herself among people.
However, he/she cannot hide his/her sins before God. He/she must be forgiven of his/her sins by giving up his/her own righteousness and by believing in the righteousness of the Lord. Those who have vague faiths and who don’t believe in the truth also want to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, hiding themselves among the same kind of people, but they will end up in hell with those who try to hide their sins with their good deeds. Sinners before God have to be revealed as sinners and give themselves up to God.
God told Adam, who made garments with fig leaves, “Why did you take the fruit? Who made you eat?” “Oh, God, The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” “Eve, why did you do so?” “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you did such a thing, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field: on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life.” That is why serpents slither on their bellies. Again God told Adam and Eve, “You also committed sin. You who were beguiled to sin and the ringleaders who made you sin are the same sinners.” Nowadays, false prophets also preach their pseudo-gospels, saying, “Receive the fire!” People who are deceived by them will be treated in the same manner as the false prophets and go to hell.
The Lord made tunics of skin for Adam and his wife
The Lord thought, “I will not leave Adam and Eve, who sinned by being beguiled by Satan, as they are. I had originally made up my mind to create men in My image and make them into My sons, so I will save them to accomplish My plan.” This plan was in God. Therefore, God passed over their sins to an animal, killed the animal, skinned it and made tunics from its skin and clothed Adam and Eve with the tunics. He made it the symbol of our salvation. In fact, the plant garments made of fig leaves could not last even a day, and it had to be repaired over and over again. God clothed Adam and Eve with eternal life, saying, “You, Adam and Eve, come on, I newly made tunics of skin from an animal, be clothed in it. It’s the skin of an animal that died for you.” The Lord clothed Adam and Eve with tunics of skin blessed with God’s righteousness in order to give Adam and Eve new lives. The Lord God made tunics from skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them, just like God clothed believers with the salvation of His righteousness.
However, the salvation of humankind that was apart from the salvation of God was the plant garment made of fig leaves. God clothed us in tunics of skin, which is the righteousness of God. The Lord clothed the remission of sins with the righteousness of God by giving us His flesh and blood. He took away all our sins with His baptism and crucifixion in order to receive all judgment in our place. God lets us have the forgiveness of sins when we believe in the righteousness of God through the gospel of the baptism and blood of Jesus. It is the gospel that saves sinners from their sins.
There are many people who try to establish their own righteousness, rejecting the righteousness of God in the world. They must discard their own righteousness. In Romans 10:1-4 it is written, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
The Israelites insisted on their legalism in order to establish their own righteousness, while ignoring the righteousness of God. God gave men the law to make them aware of sin. People have the knowledge of sin through the Ten Commandments and have the forgiveness of sin by believing in the righteousness of His salvation, which saves them from their sins through the sacrificial system of the tabernacle. Therefore, the sin offering of the tabernacle implies that Jesus is an exact representation of God in the New Testament. However, the Israelites didn’t know this righteousness of God.
Why was Jesus baptized?
Why was Jesus baptized? John the Baptist baptized Jesus in order to wash away all the sins of this world. Jesus told John the Baptist just before He was baptized, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15) This is the reason Jesus was baptized. He was baptized so that He could wash away all the sins of mankind. He took away the sins of this world by being baptized. “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) He took away all sins and was crucified to atone the sins. However, the Israelites didn’t believe that Jesus became the perfect Savior of sinners.
Israelites have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God, but Jesus is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. The end of the law means that Jesus washed away all sins of the world. Christ was judged as the curse of the law for all believers to be sanctified. He ended the curse of the law. Jesus redeemed all people from their sins. Jesus was baptized to wash away the sins of all mankind. He took away all the sins of the world by delivering His flesh up to John to be baptized and by passing all the sins of the world to His flesh. He thereby saved all people from their sins. He ended the judgment of the curse of the law by taking away the sins of this world through His baptism and crucifixion. He perfectly saved us from the judgment and the curse of the law.
It was the end of the law and the beginning of the righteousness of God’s salvation. Jesus adequately took away the sins of the world by being baptized by John the Baptist and went to the Cross. How is it possible that one has sin in one’s heart, even if one truly believes in the righteousness of Jesus’ salvation? “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.” The baptism and the blood of Jesus have been the righteousness of God. To believe in the righteousness of God is to believe in Jesus’ baptism and blood.
The righteousness of God was legitimately fulfilled by Jesus’ baptism. I want you to believe in it. You will then be saved from all your sins. The righteousness was given for sinners to become sinless through Jesus’ baptism. Moreover, the righteousness of God’s judgment was Jesus’ crucifixion. “Christ is the end of the law.” The judgment of God will come to those who have not yet been judged as long as the law exists. The law of God reveals sin and proves that the wages of sin is death, a curse and hell itself. Therefore, Jesus’ baptism and blood on the Cross ended the curse of the law. Jesus took away all our sins and has ended the law to fulfill all righteousness.
The foolish took their lamps but took no oil with them
Let’s look at Matthew 25:1-13. Here is the parable of ten virgins who waited for their bridegroom, the Advent of our Lord. Let’s see what the righteousness of God is through the scripture.
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:1-13).
It is written that the Kingdom of Heaven is similar to the ten virgins who took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom. Who enters into the Kingdom of Heaven? Who did enter into the Kingdom of Heaven among the ten virgins? Why were some virgins not able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, although they believed in Jesus? The Lord tells us about this through the above passages. Five of the ten virgins were foolish and the other five were wise. The foolish took their lamps yet took no oil with them. Lamps stand for ‘churches’. The fact that they took their lamps but took no oil with them represents those who go to church without the Holy Spirit (the oil implies the Holy Spirit in the Bible).
What did the foolish do? They took their lamps, but no oil. A man who has not been born again, even though he believes in Jesus, may devotedly attend church. Everybody says, “My church is truly orthodox.” Every Christian in this world says so. They’re very proud of the founding fathers and some characters in their denominations. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
What is a human being? A human being is a vessel before God. He/she is dust. A man is made of dust. So humankind is a vessel, which can contain God. The wise took their lamps with oil in their vessels.
The foolish virgins who have only lamps without oil burn their emotions
The Bible tells us that there are foolish virgins among people who believe in Jesus. They take their lamps, but no oil. This means that they have not been born again. Does a wick without oil last long? What we must know here is that a lamp without oil is quickly burned out, no matter how good its wick might be. Believers who have not been born again yet have hot passions of love toward the Lord at first. This lasts for just about 4 or 5 years. Later, the passionate love for the Lord gets extinguished. They must realize that they don’t have the remission of sin.
Those who have not been born again, or are without oil (the Holy Spirit), say things such as: “I used to have good faith a long time ago. I was good at first, but now I’m not. You will become like me soon.” They are false prophets and false saints who lead religious lives without being born again. They must have the faith of salvation because their faiths are not based on oil (the Holy Spirit). Their faiths are only based on their emotions. They must obtain salvation by believing in the water and the blood of Jesus Christ and receive the oil of God as a gift. The wick stands for the human heart.
Virgins wait for the bridegroom in the above passages. Here, we must well understand the cultural background of Israelites. They have marriage ceremonies at night and it begins when the bridegroom comes. So, the bride must wait for her bridegroom. This is what the marriage ceremony of the Israelites was like.
“While the bridegroom delayed, they all slumbered and slept.” There was a cry, “Behold, the bridegroom comes!” Then, the brides arose and made much ado to fix their countenances. When the ten virgins were waiting for the bridegroom, the bridegroom came with a cry, “Behold, the bridegroom comes.” “Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’” The foolish were always stupid. They should have prepared the oil before the bridegroom came. No matter how weak the wick of the lamp was, Lamp with oil would not extinguish.
The foolish virgins who had lamps without oil burned only the wicks. This means that only their hearts burned. “I have to be born again, lead a life of a born again person, and have to be filled with the Holy Spirit.” They burn out their hearts earnestly like this. At the time of our childhood, kerosene lamps used to light up the rooms at night. If we let the lamp burn a strip of paper, it would burn out in the twinkling of an eye. The fire would be over a foot tall and very bright, but it would extinguish immediately.
Foolish virgins who go to hell are those who burn their own hearts (emotions) without oil and whose fires of faith extinguish when they actually have to meet the Lord. They don’t have the Holy Spirit in them. They think they believe rightly, even though they don’t have the Holy Spirit. “♬Come, Thou burning Spirit, Come♬” They are in a great bustle. Then, women indulge in dancing (they call it the Holy Spirit-dance), fluttering their breasts, saying, “Come on, please come on.” They are foolish and crazy. We must be foolish if we still have sin before the Savior. We would be like foolish virgins if we had sin in our hearts, even though we believe in Jesus. Never be a foolish virgin.
How can the Lord marry a bride who possesses sin?
The Lord is holy God. The bridegroom is God and the Son of God who has no sin. God is our bridegroom. However, how can you try to meet God while possessing sin? Do you want to meet God with sin in your heart? This would be a very stupid and foolish thing to do.
Jesus, our bridegroom, came to the world and made brides to be sanctified. He turned His brides into righteous people by washing away all their sins through His baptism. He chose them as His brides in Him. When the time was full, five of them said, “Please come on.” However, five of them were still standing in the dark. How can they have marriage ceremonies when their faces are dark? The bridegroom came and said, “How have you been?” The faces of the latter five brides were darkened because of their sins. They were in deep grief because their sins were attached here and there inside their hearts.
How can the Lord marry a bride who weeps because of her sins? “Thank you, Lord, for sanctifying me like this.” This kind of person would be happy with his/her spiritual bridegroom, even though he/she is weak, because the bridegroom loves him/her and washed away all his/her weaknesses and sins. The bridegroom usually leads his bride to apply make-up, sending clothes and all the best perfumes and cosmetics. Then, the bride is dressed up with all those things so that she is ready to meet the bridegroom.
Our Lord was sent to the world as the bridegroom to guide us so we could meet Him as His brides. He gave us His flesh for the remission of sin at the Jordan River. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The Lord Himself took away all our sins so that we would have the fullness of grace, truth and the forgiveness of sin by believing in the Lord. The bridegroom took away all His brides’ sins at the Jordan River. The Lord saved His brides from their sins by being judged in their place on the Cross.
Can we buy the Holy Spirit with money and trials?
However, the foolish virgins asked the wise to share oil with them, for their lamps were burnt out, when the bridegroom was near. Can we share the Holy Spirit? Can we buy the Holy Spirit with money? Can we buy the forgiveness of sin with good deeds, trial or money? The wise told them to buy the Holy Spirit from revival service preachers. The foolish thought that they already bought it from them. They thought they could buy the oil with money. They zealously led religious lives, thinking that large offerings and services, attending orthodox churches and praying repeatedly would give them something.
But no matter what, nobody can buy the remission of sin, which the Lord has given, with anything from the earth. The foolish try to burn their emotions until they come to stand before the Lord. One of the five foolish virgins began a religious life saying, “I will follow You, I will also go up a mountain for prayers and prayers of repentance. Let’s go to serve Him, let’s go abroad to preach the gospel.”
The bridegroom came at last with a great fanfare. The foolish went to buy oil when the bridegroom had come, but the virgins who had the forgiveness of sin and had prepared oil (the Holy Spirit) went into the marriage feast. The bridegroom met the brides after He prepared everything. Then He locked the door. Jesus didn’t just randomly choose five virgins. The number ‘five’ means ‘grace’ in the Bible. The five virgins stand for those who have the remission of sin by grace and believe in His grace and righteous deeds. They recognize the things the bridegroom has done for them and believe in the righteousness of the Lord, which makes them righteous. However, the other virgins eventually came and said, “Lord, Lord, open to us.” But He answered, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.”
We can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit only when our sins are blotted out
Those who don’t prepare oil cannot meet the Lord. The Lord will take only those who believed in God’s righteousness and waited for the Kingdom of Heaven and those who actually had the remission of sin in their hearts, to the Kingdom of Heaven. The Lord told the words of promise. “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Then, what happens after the remission of our sins? The Bible says, “You shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). If you receive the gospel of the righteousness of God, the sins in your heart will actually be blotted out and the Holy Spirit will come to you. We cannot physically feel the Holy Spirit of God. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit exists. We can say that we have no sin because we have the Holy Spirit and the word of God in our hearts. It truly exists. One who receives the righteousness of the Lord becomes a righteous man, although he is weak. However, one who doesn’t have the righteousness of the Lord remains a sinner.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed
The Lord came by water and blood. He saved us from our sins with His baptism. He took away all our sins when He was baptized and received the vicarious punishment for all our sins by shedding His blood. What do the Apostles John, Peter and Paul say about this? They altogether talk about Jesus’ flesh and blood. They talk about Jesus’ baptism and His blood on the Cross. Matthew 3:13-17 exactly describes Jesus’ baptism. Jesus was baptized to make sinners sinless and to wash away all the sins of the world at the Jordan River.
Let’s take a look at 1 Peter 3:21. Peter testified that the antitype of salvation was His baptism. “There is also an antitype which now saves us─baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him” (1 Peter 3:21-22).
It is written, “There is also an antitype which now saves us─baptism through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Jesus’ baptism, which took away all our sins by His flesh, has been the proof of our salvation. The fact that He shed blood on the Cross is proof to the fact that we had been judged for our sins. Do you see what I am saying? Therefore, the Bible states that Jesus is the One who came by water, blood and the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:6-9). Jesus was sent to the world in human flesh and took away all our sins in the same way Aaron the High Priest laid his hands on the offerings to pass over the sins of his people.
Water is the antitype that saves us; baptism. It is written that it is not the removal of the filthy flesh. This doesn’t mean that we don’t sin after we obtain the remission of sin. We receive the forgiveness of sin by believing in the baptism of Jesus. Then, don’t we sin with the flesh? Yes, we do. Many people misunderstand the remission of sin and say such things as, “If you have no sin in your heart, you won’t sin again.” This is a misunderstanding. The Bible says, “There is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). The flesh is still weak. It is weak until it dies. It commits sins until it dies. “Not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.” Our consciences change into the good consciences toward God through our faiths in the baptism and the blood of Jesus. Our consciences can call God our Lord and Savior by our faiths in the fact that the Lord took away all our sins by His baptism.
The spiritual nourishment for our hearts is the baptism and the blood of Jesus
Nourishment for the heart is the baptism and the blood of Jesus. Nourishment for the heart and the antitype that washed away our sins is the baptism of Jesus. Thus, Peter the Apostle said that baptism is the antitype, which saved us.
Let’s look at 1 Peter 1:22-23. “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.” Amen.
We have been born again and received the remission of all sins by believing in Jesus’ baptism and His blood. We are born again by believing in the written word of the Lord. We have been born again ‘through the word of God, which lives and abides forever.’ Hallelujah! Being born again happens through the word that lives and abides forever. The word of God is the canon, which refer to a measuring rod. It’s the benchmark for salvation. The measuring rod for the salvation of God never changes.
John the Baptist said in John 1:29, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” The Lamb of God who was baptized at the Jordan River is the real bread of life, which saved us by His flesh and blood.
We are sanctified and saved by believing in the word of God. The Bible says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” and “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Romans 10:17, 1:17). We can become just by believing in the gospel.
Have you been sanctified? ─Amen.─ Don’t you have any sins? It’s the gospel, the good news, ‘euaggelion’ in Greek. What is the righteousness of God? It’s the fact that the Lord blotted out all our sins by giving His flesh and blood to us. The righteousness of God allowed us to be sanctified. The righteousness of God is that Jesus, who was sinless, took away the sins of the world and was crucified for the sinners. It is the water, the baptism of Jesus that cleansed all the sins of the world. The righteousness of God has been given through the fact that Jesus took away the sins of the world by His baptism and the Crucifixion. The righteousness of God consists of His baptism and death, and the Cross is the antitype of our judgment. This is God’s righteousness that was revealed in the gospel.